Strike from the Sea
Strike from the Sea
The Royal Navy & United States Navy at War in the Middle East
The Arabian Gulf has been a major flash point for over 50 years.
In ‘Strike from the Sea’ Iain Ballantyne examines the role of the US Navy and Royal Navy in this troubled area – and further afield – from the 1940s to the 21st Century.
He places experiences of sailors and marines at the core of a dynamic narrative that ranges across many key events. These include the Abadan Crisis of the 1950s, the Suez Crisis in 1956 and a 1961 Iraqi threat to invade Kuwait. We also learn of the ill-fated Eagle’s Claw mission to rescue the Tehran hostages, experience the Tanker War of the 1980s and clashes between the US Navy and Colonel Gaddafi’s forces. Warships and tankers are hit by sea-skimming missiles or hit mines, while terrorist attacks in Europe lead to air strikes.
The story increases in scale and complexity after Saddam Hussein’s blitzkrieg into Kuwait in 1990 and the subsequent operations to contain the Iraqi dictator’s forces and eject them from Kuwait. The vast land, sea and air offensive to liberate the tiny, oil-rich emirate results in poisoned seas, booby-trapped ports and skies thick with black smoke.
The tale moves into its final phase with the international community’s ill-fated attempt to contain the so-called Beast of Baghdad. It diverts for operations against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan (in the aftermath of 9-11) before culminating in the controversial 2003 invasion of Iraq.
‘Strike from the Sea’ is also a study in the decline of the Royal Navy in the Middle East and its handover to the US Navy as the primary peace-keeper (and enforcer).
Partly based on Iain Ballantyne’s own reports from front line naval units, at sea and ashore during operations East of Suez (1990 – 2001), ‘Strike from the Sea’ seeks to convey the perspective of men and women seeking to endure and prevail during difficult and complex missions.
Iain’s desire is to one day revisit this topic via a supplementary work. It would provide a different, less optimistic perspective on recent events that reflects with bitter hindsight on the need to sometimes temper an urge to strike from the sea with a more patient and less kinetic approach.
Pen & Sword Maritime
Published: 16 January 2004
‘Deftly written, and in a style that is more personal than detached, it demonstrates not only an assured knowledge of the subject but also the author’s liking and respect for the maritime community...A further strength of the book, in addition to its easily digestible style, is in the range of its personal accounts and photographs.
The Naval Review
‘Every now and then there comes a book that can be considered as a masterpiece in its genre. “Strike from the Sea” by lain Ballantyne is such a book. Encyclopaedic in its content, the reader is taken on a historical journey both nautical and political from 1949 until 2003 across one of the world’s most troubled areas…The clarity of the writing, and an excellent knowledge of his subject matter have enabled the author to produce a book that is a must for all those to whom the Middle East is of interest.’
Review by John Whatling, writing for ‘Rob Jerrard’s Naval and Maritime Book Reviews’
‘First of all, Ballantyne writes from experience, that being several embarks made aboard ships in the region during and after the recent operations there, between 1990 and 2001. In the immediate aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom [in 2003] he held detailed discussions on front line operations with an SSN captain, naval helicopter pilots and surface warship COs. He knows what he’s talking about. He also knows that what’s going on over in the Gulf region is based on centuries of history, so starting his account with much background dating from WW2 makes a lot of sense and puts the allied presence in the region in greater perspective. History repeats itself. And we learn through engaging. This book tells us both the history, and the stories of the engagements, all of which serve to prepare us for the next chapters in this troubled region of the world.’
Captain Ned Lunquist, US Navy (Retd) writing on his blog, Ned Lundquist's Job of the Week (JOTW)